Feb 17, 2013 6:00am PST
anywhere. >> reporter: the yearly catch is shipped to nasa's johnson space center. here in the non-december crypt building number 31... >> this is the air shower. reporter: ... where you have to suit up to protect the meteorites from contamination. the precious cargo is unpacked and catalogued under the watchful eye of curator kevin rider. >> they're frozen from the time they're collected and returned all the way along the legs of the journey to get to houston. >> reporter: each sample is carefully examined and given a name based on where it was found. so we get to see a martian meteorite. >> this sample is elephant morain 79001. it's a basaltic rock from mars. >> reporter: it was studying a martian meteorite found in antarctica that led scientists to the discovery that there was once water on mars. and those these ugly ducklings may all look similar to the naked eye each meteorite has different chemical and mineral content. under a polarizing microscope, there is beautiful... they're as beautiful as stained glass windows for it's what they may some day tell us that really matters.